Whether you are looking to set up a brand new network or you are looking to upgrade an existing one, getting a solid router is one of the best investments that you can make to increase and/or maintain the speeds that you are getting from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
A bad router can be detrimental to the Internet speeds that you are able to achieve. This is especially true if you are constantly using WiFi within your home. For this reason, you should attempt to find the best router for your particular setup and use case scenario. Below, we will be going over some of the top things that you should be looking for when you are trying to find the top wireless routers.
Finding The Highest Quality Wireless Routers:
1. Should You Use Your ISPs Router?
Typically when you sign up for Internet service from an ISP, you will be offered their own in-house router solution. Typically, they will offer it for either a rental fee or they will offer you the ability to outright purchase their router. In most cases, you shouldn’t accept or use your ISP’s router unless you are completely hands off and do not want to have to deal with installation and/or troubleshooting issues that could come up.
Your ISP should provide you a list of compatible routers that you can purchase and use on your own. However, it is also important to keep in mind that you will likely require a combination of a modem/router or two separate products including a modem and a router. Even if your ISP provided you with a completely free router, you will likely want to upgrade it in order to get the speeds promised by your particular package and your ISP.
While buying your own equipment is not a sure way to achieve faster speeds, it is generally going to give you much better coverage and it can even save you a lot of money, in the long run, considering you will not be paying an extra rental fee for the ISP’s router.
2. Wireless Standards
Nowadays, more devices are coming with updated wireless technology crammed into them. This has largely changed throughout the past decade or so. More and more devices are now coming with the newer standard in wireless technology which is 802.11ac. This new standard ultimately provides your devices with much more stable and faster speeds over the old wireless standard. The newer devices are going to be much more capable of achieving the speeds that most ISP’s are offering over WiFi. For instance, if you are paying your ISP for 100Mbps or more and you are still using a router that only features the old standard, the limitations set by your router are going to throttle and bottleneck your true Internet speeds.
Thus, you will not be getting what you are paying for in terms of Internet speeds. With that being said, if you do not currently have any devices that are capable of supporting the new wireless standard of Wireless AC, then this is not likely to cause problems until you upgrade. However, whenever buying technology, it is always recommended to be forward thinking and to attempt to ‘future-proof’ your purchases as best possible. Thus, you should be upgrading to a new standard router if you are upgrading at this point in time – no matter whether or not you have devices that currently support the new standard.
The price of the router is going to come into play whenever you are looking to find and purchase a new router. You want to be sure to look at the price and factor that into your overall decision-making process because you should be able to find routers in virtually every price bracket. Thus, no matter your budget, you should be able to find a good router solution for your particular situation. While you might have to forgo specific features or upgrades based on your budget, you should be able to find a dependable router that can help you max out your Internet speeds.
Typically, if you just need a router that works and one that is going to provide you with good WiFi range, a good router is going to cost anywhere from $100 to $200. The area above that price point is going to be more so for ‘niche’ users and those that are looking for specific features that might be able to enhance their Internet connections and experience. For instance, routers that are above $200 might be targeted towards enterprise clients and/or gamers with ‘niche’ specific features.
4. Single or Dual Band
Whenever you are buying a router, you will want to factor in the typical usage scenario for your home. You want to factor in not only how many people are in your family, but also how many devices you have working on WiFi. The more devices you have, the more likely your best option is going to be to opt for a dual-band router.
Nowadays, it would always be recommended to opt for a dual-band router because more and more devices are using the 2.4GHz band. Because of this, you might find a lot more interference with this band. Instead of using this band, switching to 5GHz might allow you to achieve faster speeds and less interference. That way, you can spread out your devices across the two different bands which is going to allow you to operate with much less clutter.
Whenever you are trying to find the ideal router for your particular setup, you are going to want to factor in how much range your router is going to need within your home. Obviously, the larger your home, the more range that it is going to require to provide adequate coverage for it. Whereas, if you are simply trying to fill up an apartment, your router will not have to feature nearly as much range considering an apartment is much smaller than a single family home.
Therefore, you should look at your setup and figure out how much range you will need to get out of the router that you end up purchasing. While you definitely want to find a router that is going to provide adequate coverage for your home, if you have a very large home, it is not unreasonable to have a multi-extender setup in order to fill your home with WiFi instead of expecting to have a single router fill up your entire home. To do so, you can either utilize an older router and set it as a network extender or access point or simply use powerline adapters for Ethernet connectivity throughout your home.
Another thing that you are going to want to consider when it comes to buying a new router would be the interface that it comes with. You want to try to find a router that is geared to your technological level. Meaning, you do not want to purchase an enterprise geared router when you are simply looking for a consumer grade router with a user-friendly interface. If you are not looking to get extra performance out of your router or looking to make any sort of technical tweaks to it, you might be better off buying a router that is designed purely to work rather than designed for optimal performance.
A lot of the routers on the market offer an extremely user-friendly interface and installation process and some of them lack in this area. If you would rather have the ability to test and tweak things and you have an advanced knowledge of networking, you are likely going to be more tempted to purchase a ‘power user’ type of router. Whereas, if you are more so looking for something that is a ‘set it and forget it’ type of device, you are likely going to be looking at a completely different type of router solution.
7. Lan and USB Ports
Another thing that you are likely going to want to factor into your decision-making process would be whether or not it has the right number of LAN and USB ports for your particular setup. While this is certainly not going to be a dealbreaker for most, it is something that is worth considering when you are searching for the best router. A USB port on a router is something that is very important for being able to set up wireless printing. Routers that feature USB ports can be used for setting up wireless storage on your network.
If you are someone that is not looking to set up a wireless printer that might not have wireless capabilities and you are not looking to create a network media storage device to stream things locally on your network, a USB port might not necessarily be a dealbreaker for you. While additional LAN ports are certainly important if you have a lot of ethernet connected devices, these are likely not going to be dealbreakers either unless you are unwilling to purchase an additional LAN switch for your setup. If you ever do need additional LAN ports, you can always buy a LAN switch which will provide you with additional ports that you can use.
8. Mesh Routers
If you are looking to fill up an entire home with one seamless wireless solution, a mesh setup is typically going to be your best options nowadays. A mesh setup is a series of wireless routers that are able to ‘mesh’ together seamlessly without having mixed communication during the handshake process. Because they are seamless, whenever you are traveling throughout your home on your wireless network, it will automatically transfer you to the next router solution if it is providing a better and more stable signal.
Overall, there is much to consider and think about when it comes to finding the best router on the market. Whenever you are trying to find the best wireless router, you will need to think about your specific network, situation, use case scenarios, and devices. By doing this, you should be able to figure out which router is going to be the best option for your home and which router is going to provide you with the type of features and experience that you are looking for.
Because there are wireless router solutions available at virtually every budget and price point, you shouldn’t have a difficult time finding the right router to purchase that will be able to provide you with the kind of performance that you are looking for out of it.